Batum bowled over by Gilas | Inquirer Sports

Batum bowled over by Gilas

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 11:51 PM July 06, 2016

batum

Nicolas Batum goes through warm up drills at Mall of Asia Arena. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

NIC Batum wasn’t part of the French team that outlasted Gilas Pilipinas in the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday night.

But it didn’t stop him from heaping the ultimate praise on their conquered foes.

“Two years ago, they’ve earned our respect already,” said Batum, who just two days ago became the latest multi-millionaire in the NBA with a $120 million, five-year contract with Charlotte. “We respect them more now.”

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Batum was referring to the Filipinos whom they also narrowly beat in a pocket tournament in France.

His teammates rallied from as many as 10 points down in the first quarter before prevailing, 93-84, to practically seal their advance to the crossover Final Four.

“We had a tough game. It wasn’t easy for us to get this game,” said Batum, who will be ready for tomorrow’s action against New Zealand after signing that mega-buck deal today.

With a team led by San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker and the crafty Boris Diaw, France is being labeled as the team to beat here.

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But in front of the country’s newly installed Chief Executive and given a boost of adrenaline by a raucous sellout crowd at Mall of Asia Arena, the Filipinos gave the French everything they could handle before inexperience got them in the end.

“They hit some big shots and they played some great defense,” the 6-foot-8 Batum said.

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A spate of errors in the stretch snuffed Gilas’ chances after the Filipinos had come within four points with under four minutes left. But still, Batum is convinced that Team Philippines belongs here.

“Wow, this (Gilas) team can play.”

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The way Batum talked about Gilas, it seemed like the Filipinos were the ones who won on Tuesday night.

TAGS: Basketball, Gilas Pilipinas, Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Nic Batum

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